3rd crew member found inside sunken tugboat in Hudson River; crash that killed 2 others

Kemberly Richardson Image
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Search to resume for 3rd crew member in Hudson River tugboat crash that killed 2 others
Kemberly Richardson is in Tarrytown with the latest

TARRYTOWN, New York (WABC) -- The third missing person on board the tugboat that crashed near the Tappan Zee Bridge this weekend has been found inside the sunken vessel in the Hudson River.

On Monday, commercial divers for the first time headed to the exact spot where the tugboat The Specialist now sits 40 feet below the surface. First responders who rushed to the scene Saturday morning, minutes after the tugboat hit a fixed construction barge, found the vessel fully submerged.

All three crew members on board the 90-foot tug died in the crash. Paul Amon was captain of the tugboat, which for some reason veered off course. Sources tell Eyewitness News that a worker on the barge yelled to Amon to abandon ship, but he refused, saying his crew was trapped below.

Witnesses say the back of the tug was under part of the barge and that Amon was spotted running on deck as the vessel rolled under the barge and sunk. Amon was the first pulled from the water, while Timothy Conklin was later found dead inside the boat.

It's believed that the body of Harry Hernandez, of Staten Island, is in a section of the sunken tugboat that divers were not able to access. On Sunday, divers recovered the body of Timothy Conklin, of Westbury, New York. The body of Paul Amon, of Bayville, New Jersey, was retrieved Saturday.

Conklin worked at the Cradle of Aviation Museum for about a decade.

"He had his whole life ahead of him, so it was pretty hard to take," museum Executive Director Andrew Parton said. "Total shock. We know he loved his job. He had loved working on tugs and talked about it for years before he left here to go work there full time."

Authorities said the morning of this disaster, the water temperature was a frigid 40 degrees.

"The most that a human can stay in that water temperature is about 15 to 30 minutes," Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said. "And at that point, they will most likely go into a state of unconsciousness."

The accident also spilled about 5,000 gallons of fuel into the water north of New York City.

The men left Friday night from the Albany area, and were heading to Jersey City, escorting a crane. Investigators are now trying to determine what caused the collision.

It was back in 2013 when a horrific boating accident at the very same location killed a bride-to-be and a best man two weeks before the wedding. The victim's families claimed the barge was not visible at the time of the crash because of inadequate lighting.

"Clearly one question - was there enough lighting?" Astorino said. "How familiar were they with this part of the Hudson River?"

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the barge was illuminated at the time, and it appeared to be a tragic accident. He said in a statement that 21 workers were on the bridge construction barge that was hit, but none of them was injured.